The College Dodgeballer’s Manifesto

Are you the captain of a young team and you want to make an impact during your inaugural year in the NCDA? Or maybe you’re just a new player who’s still trying to figure this whole college dodgeball thing out. Either way, Jazzy has you covered with “The College Dodgeballer’s Manifesto” — 16 things to know if you want to excel in college dodgeball. Have your own suggestions for the manifesto? Send them to ncdadodgeball@gmail.com. So, what are you waiting for? Your dodgeball training starts right here!

1. Be aggressive! This is probably the costliest mistake a young squad can make. Your team must not become too passive or cease to attack. Remember, if you get down, the clock is against you, so you need to attack!

2. No long throws. No player needs to make throws longer than 10-12 ft. Throws longer than that are just an easy catch for the other team.

3. Do not attack alone. If you’re alone, you leave yourself wide open after you throw. So make sure to attack in groups of 2-3. It’s also a smart idea to pair up your best arms with a blocker who can protect them full-time.

4. Aim low. High throws are easy catches. If you don’t use the “grippy” throw, aim between the ankles and the knees, especially when your opponent is backpedaling. If you do use the grippy, try to aim low, even though this can be difficult.

5. Catching is the best way to help the team. Good hands are more valuable than strong arms in this game. Pick out opponents during warm-ups and during the first point that have weak arms. When they throw, try to make a catch.

6. Don’t be afraid to jump. A lot of players try to dodge low throws by lifting one leg or side-stepping them, myself included. If a throw is made at your feet, there is a 100% chance you will avoid it if you jump over it!

7. Stay spread out. Instead of having everyone charge to throw and then retreat to the baseline, you need to spread the floor, attack and then be ready to strike after the counterattack. Teams like GVSU do this very well and that’s one of the reasons they win. Having everyone at the baseline is like lining up for a firing squad- someone is sure to get hit.

8. Know where you are on the floor. No stepping out of bounds or over the neutral zone line, period. Remember: as long as you have one foot in on the sidelines and baseline, you’re fine. But you can’t step over the neutral zone line, so keep your distance. Also, catches must be made with one foot inside the line.

9. Protect your teammates. If you see a teammate that has thrown and is about to be thrown at, move forward and use your ball to block the throw. If you don’t participate in an attack, rush forward to cover your throwers as they retreat back to the baseline.

10. Look for your crosscourt opportunities. This is the bread and butter of any good team and where your sneaky players will make their living. If you have a ball, hang back, lay low and wait for your chance. When you see an opponent charge and make a throw from across the court, don’t hesitate! Attack!

11. Stay moving. A moving target is much harder to hit.

12. Throw at the same time at the same person. If you attack in a group, target the same player. One ball is easy to avoid. Several balls are not.

13. Do not throw at opponents holding balls. This one is just common sense. If you are going to make a throw, it had better be at a defenseless opponent. Conserve your arm strength by picking your spots and not making foolish throws that have no chance of getting someone out.

14. Communicate with your teammates. Yell out things you see to alert your teammates. “Guy moving up,” “Gotta ball here,” “Everyone throw at this guy.” More communication will invariably lead to more success as a team.

15. Everyone needs to play their position. Whatever your designation, the best way to help the team is by playing your role. Even though some positions aren’t as glamorous as others, your team will need all positions working together if they’re going to win. To illustrate: a thrower gets 5 opponents out during a game but a blocker keeps 10 of his players from getting out. Which is more valuable?

16. Everyone rush. Unless you’re designated to hang behind, you need to participate in the opening rush. The team that has the balls controls the game. Therefore, your team needs to get as many of the balls as they can.

DWC: Day One

Well here it is…the blog you’ve all been waiting for…DAY ONE of theDWC!!! After one day of about 30 games I am pretty beat up. Because BG didn’t go to Nationals (for a stupid reason might I add) I haven’t played a real game of dodgeball since the tournament we hosted in Febuary causing my soreness to be extremely intense.

I played in two divisions both only using the traditional 8.5″ ball and (drum roll please) one of the teams was all female…that’s right all of us were girls and we did really well against all male teams. I loved playing with my women-folk it was refreshing knowing that there are actually really great dodgeball players that just happen to be women.

On an interesting note two universities were there University of Miami and Oregon State both of which were not at the NCDA level but definitely have potential we should probably get them into the NCDA making the league reach coast to coast…also I think that next year, as kind of a starter to the new year, the NCDA should submit a team or two kind of like an NCDA All-Stars…even if the rules are different most everyone there would be murdered or have some major competition at the very least. I know most of us think the pros can’t handle our league mainly because of the rules they play by but the pros are actually really good and would hold their own in one of our games…anyways just some thoughts as I try to rest for tomorrow’s day of dodgeball…I hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend!

March Madness? Try April Annihilation.

Unless you’ve been in a cave with your fingers in your ears for the past week, you might’ve heard there’s a little college basketball tournament going on nationwide.But just in case you missed it, turn on your TV and flip through the channels until you find the following:

Dream games that place school pride on the line and feature nail-biting finishes sure to leave you with no hair or serious chest pains!

In my dream future, that sentence wouldn’t just apply to college basketball. As I’ve sat and watched the rabid fervor (I refuse to call it madness) that surrounds this tournament, I’ve wondered on several occasions if this could ever happen for college dodgeball.

The optimist in me substitutes the five basketballers on the court with three times as many dodgeballers and 10 times as many balls. The hypothetical announcer (always Al Michaels in my head) can barely contain his excitement as he tries to narrate the explosive action unfolding before him:

“Raymer streaks up the right side of the court… he’s got Parsons and Byrne crosscourt… it’s a three-on-one with four seconds left in the national championship… Raymer leaps and throws… it’s over! It’s over! He’s done it! Western has won the title!”

The scene dissolves as the confetti rains down and I’m swarmed by adoring fans who all want a piece of their dodgeball hero. Yes, I can see how most people would just dismiss this as the delusional fantasy of someone who’s taken one too many shots to the head. But play along with me for just a moment. Insert yourself into my dream scenario. Bathe in the awesomeness of possibility.

Because at this point, I know it’s going to take a huge effort to turn this dream into a reality.

Don’t misunderstand me – the league has A LOT going for it right now. New teams, new rivalries, and a greater national presence have all helped to buoy the NCDA to new heights this season. But like any good high school coach at the dawn of a new season, I say to my dodgeball brethren that we still have much work ahead of us.

I agree with Mr. Bomis that dodgeball will be harder to engrain into the social fabric due to the number of balls flying around at one time and the difficulty that poses for fans trying to follow the action. Then again, I bet a lot of people thought Naismith was pretty stupid for tossing a ball through a peach basket way back when. 118 years later, look at us now – America is totally engulfed in hoops hysteria.

It’s going to seem hard to justify right now, but I say to you with confidence that buying into this league and doing everything possible to help it grow has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I know I’ll never see the type of success college basketball enjoys while I’m in school (maybe even while I’m alive), but all great things were built on the shoulders of men who didn’t have to see the end result to be content with their effort.

Don’t believe me? Just try to imagine life without America, sports, moon landings, and beautiful women. God bless the selfless souls who came before us. To use a sports cliché, I truly believe dodgeball can be “the next big thing.” Moreover, I believe that the incredible leadership displayed throughout this league has the ability necessary to help us reach our true potential. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, most of the time, it will probably suck as much as simultaneous shots to the head and nuts.

But I want you to stop for just a second and listen real close.

You hear that?

It’s the sound of destiny and the roar of the adoring fans we have yet to reach. They’re hungry for a sport that encourages facial rearrangement and catches so sick they make a Sportscenter Top 10 look like amateur hour. It looks like it’s almost time to get your brackets ready off in imaginary land.

April Annihilation is coming!

What If: the Grip was never invented?

Fire. The wheel. Modern language. The automobile. TiVo.

History is marked by the advancements that have propelled society forward and pushed the edges of technology into areas once thought of only in science fiction.

In our daily lives, we utilize technology so often we can’t imagine an existence without cell phones, laptops and satellite television.

As college dodgeball players, we’re often guilty of forgetting the unique advancements that make our game the highest level of competitive dodgeball in the country.

The rules, structure and traditions of this great game create a flavor of dodgeball that can only be found at the college level.

Arguably one of the biggest differences (the biggest in this writer’s opinion) between NCDA play and every other variety is the prevalence of the famous “Gorilla Grip” in our games.

Also known as “the Grippy,” “the grip” or “pinching,” the Gorilla Grip is the technique of squeezing the ball that results in faster throws and reduced accuracy (at least in the beginning).

Created by Ohio State legend Greg Funk three years ago, the grip allowed OSU to decimate the competition at Nationals and capture the championship that year.

Since then, it has been adopted by every team and is taught as a fundamental skill in dodgeball, much like proper tackling in football or hitting techniques in baseball.

During games, the biggest indicator of new players is those who throw without the grip.

Good pitchers can throw curveballs. Seasoned quarterbacks can throw spirals. Experienced dodgeballers can throw with the grip.

So, what would the league be like today if the gorilla grip had never been invented?

This little trip down hypothetical lane provides a chilling depiction of an alternate NCDA universe.

Just imagine a game where the hardest throw zooms at you with the same velocity as a football thrown on its side.

Catches would increase dramatically and headshots would lose all significance.

Every throw that couldn’t be caught would be blocked and players could take a quick nap before having to dodge an incoming throw.

There would be no learning curve for people making the jump from PE dodgeball to the college game.

While this may seem good for acclimating new players, the most competitive souls love the challenge of mastering a sport they’re not good at right away.

A world without the gorilla grip would make it even harder to keep players from losing interest once they realized college dodgeball was essentially the same game they’d played their entire lives.

Fan interest would also decrease because, honestly, everyone just wants to see a player get drilled below the belt or above the shoulders.

A game played without the grip would be like watching professional bowling with the gutters blocked off or a NBA game on a six-foot goal.

Worst of all, the WASA dodgeballers from Wreckreation Nation would probably give us a run for our money!

That alone is enough to ensure that Greg Funk will be one of the first dodgeballers enshrined in the NCDA Hall of Fame.

For now, college dodgeball players should be thankful their game has developed its one distinct advantage over other cheap imitations.

Without it, those fogies out in Colorado really would be the cream of the dodgeball crop.

Scary, isn’t it?

Dodgeball World Cup

Hey everyone I know its been awhile since I last posted but its the off season so not much is going on. But the biggest event in the dodgeballworld is happening in less than a month, the Dodgeball World Cup, and I felt like this deserved a nice post. I will be going to this event as a freelancer and trying out for the pros although, as most of the NCDA knows, the “pros” are nothing compared to how we play.

I felt like I had a chance to compete and do well in the competition happening August 14th-16th in Las Vegas so I decided to try it out. The DWC has 5 divisions; Open 8.5″, Co-ed 8.5″, Open Stinger, Co-ed Stinger, and Women’s. Personally I can’t wait to see the Women’s division just to experience what females can do when the guys aren’t around. On the other hand I am not excited for stingers. Honestly I don’t even think stingers should exist in the world of dodgeball it takes away the brutal bruises from a traditional 8.5″ which is so much more fun to show around (as far as battle wounds go).

Regardless of my personal preferences I think the DWC will be a blast, even if the pros are chicken shit compared to our league, and I will be posting pics and comments about my experience as a woman in this huge competition.

Raymer: NCDA 5 Year Plan

**These goals are endorsed by WKU Captain Josh Raymer and Alternate Captain Felix Perrone and do not represent the goals of other team captains or the NCDA as an organization.**

THE GOALS

GOAL ONE: Double the number of teams in the league and maintain the teams currently in existence.

GOAL TWO: Create an executive board comprised of representatives from each team who can elect a President, Vice President, Secretary, and other pertinent positions.

GOAL THREE: Have a complete website with Flash elements that is updated daily by representatives from each school.

GOAL FOUR: Assuming Goal One is met: separate league teams into Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest Divisions.

GOAL FIVE: Assuming Goal Four is met: develop set schedules for each team in the league.

GOAL SIX: Develop a recruitment package for potential teams that includes a video explaining league rules, a DVD with game footage, a contact sheet for the league and a guide with tips and instructions for starting a team.

GOAL SEVEN: Assuming Goals One and Four are met: change the format of Nationals to include only the top two teams from each division.

GOAL EIGHT: Assuming Goals One, Two and Four are met: have members of the executive board decide on a rotational schedule for Nationals among schools from each division.

GOAL NINE: Land a story in a major sports publication, such as ESPN Magazine, Sports Illustrated or Sporting News.

THE PLAN

GOAL ONE: League representative Mike Zimmer will conduct research to find universities where dodgeball events are taking place. He will make contact to request approval for shipment of the promotional package. After that, he will contact the captain of the university nearest the prospect to suggest attending that event. It will be the responsibility of that captain to help establish a program at that school.

GOAL TWO: Establish the positions and their responsibilities at the 2009 National tournament. We should look to elect people to these positions before the end of the current school year.

GOAL THREE: Set aside future sponsorship money to put toward a fully developed Flash website. This will probably cost between $2,000-4,000. Raymer has a potential contact for this project, but funds would be needed.

GOAL FOUR: See chart below.

GOAL FIVE: Teams within each division would decide on a set schedule by July 31st every year. That schedule would include at least one game against every divisional opponent and at least two games against non-divisional opponents.

GOAL SIX: Members of the executive board would help assemble the necessary components of the promotional package. Different team leaders could be responsible for creating a guide, a rules video and assembling game footage.

GOAL SEVEN: See pictures below.

GOAL EIGHT: Move the national tournament from one division to another. For instance, have a SW team host in 2010, a NE team host in 2011, a CENTRAL team host in 2012 and a NW team host in 2013. Then repeat the process starting in 2014 with new teams from each divisions.

GOAL NINE: League representative Mike Zimmer would contact various media outlets and promote upcoming NCDA events. Should those outlets be interested, Zimmer would put that outlet in contact with those responsible for planning the event.

POTENTIAL DIVISIONS

Northwest: UWP, DePaul, GVSU, Marquette*, Bradley*
Northeast: CMU, SVSU, MSU, HFCC, W Michigan*
Southwest: UofL, WKU, UK, EKU*, GA Tech*
Central: OSU, Kent, BGSU, Miami, Penn State*

CHAMPION BRACKET* Teams that are expected to join the NCDA next season.

ELIMINATED BRACKET

Sometimes known as “That Cult”

Story by: Ben Rusch

Most teams in the NCDA instantly recognize DePaul as the team who cares only about fun… and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The DePaul Dodgeball club was founded with the intention to allow students to cut loose from their stresses in life, whatever those may be. It initially attracted a wide variety of students from all different backgrounds, and this club diversity became a mainstay in the culture of the club.

Today, our club consists of everything from finance students to musicians and aspiring filmmakers to philosophy majors. Some of us our metalheads, some of us are hippies. There are girls, and there and guys, but we’re all dudes. Essentially, we come together despite our differences in lifestyle, career paths and interests because we all have on commonality; we love this freaking sport. You will never find a more cohesive group of people with more differences in personality, and that’s all because dodgeball has brought us together to hone our aggresive energy into something that makes us feel like kids again. We’re often referred to by lame, isolated DePaul students as “The Cult”, because of our ridiculous antics and overt hilarity. These are all huge reasons why we play the way that we do.

Instead of holding practices, we just play. Everyone is invited, and you’re numbered off into two games like it’s a pick-up game. Non-stop play for 2 hours, thats how we roll. And we have never forgotten the dodgeball, so in the spirit of gym classes all around the country, we attempt to be deviant and goofy as much as possible. Remember that time your gym teacher told you that you were being too aggresive and energetic during dodgeball play??? We burn that teacher in effigy at DePaul. We refuse to put a cap or filter on the fun we have… and this is the exact reason for the phenomenon of “Baby Shark”, trick shots like “The Awesome” and “The Shotgun” and our contradictory moniker “undefeated”. We will never be defeated because we will always have fun. Plain and simple.

Come join us on Monday and Thursday nights and experience the DePaul mantra for yourself. I promise, you’ll never wanna go back to running wind sprints or practicing strategy in your practices again ;-).

The ROB 9000

If you were to sit it out in public, it would attract plenty of confused stares. People would whisper to their neighbor in the hope of determining what exactly they were looking at.

“Is it some kind of funky armchair?” they would say. “Some piece of obscure construction equipment? A new aged torture device?!”

No, no, and definitely not.

To put it as simply as possible, it’s a pitching machine. But not in the way that you’re thinking.

It was an idea that came to me after the conclusion of last season. Our team had just completed a winless season in our inaugural year, finishing up with a thorough thrashing at the hands of Ohio State.

Despite the fact that our inexperience had factored heavily into each of our losses, our team clearly needed to improve in several areas of the game. We were getting blown off the court by teams that made better throws, dodged more effectively, and caught every ball that came their way.

This last issue struck me as the most important area of improvement for our team. We needed to become better catchers if we had any chance of finding success next season. But upgrading our skills in this department had posed several challenges to us during our previous practice sessions.

For starters, we couldn’t practice catching off a live arm for more than a couple throws before that player’s arm was completely dead. We often found ourselves skipping out on catching practice for the sake of having a decent scrimmage at the end of each session.

Replicating the speed and the unique spin of a grippy throw also proved to be rather difficult. The handful of players on our team who could actually make that kind of throw consistently were never keen about burning out their arms for someone else’s sake.

So it became imperative for me to come up with a different solution to our problem.

I got the idea for a pitching machine after returning to what had inspired to start a dodgeball team in the first place: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

The training sequence in that movie featured a dual wheeled contraption that Patches O’Houlihan used to launch balls at the various members of Average Joe’s gym and torture Justin Long’s character by pummeling him unmercifully. This seemed like the perfect answer for our catching woes. Having an automated delivery system to practice with would save our arms and expose us to some serious fastballs.

So I turned to eBay to explore the price range for this particular style pitching machine. The results, to put it mildly, were jaw-dropping. Prices in the upper hundreds and lower thousands jumped out at me. Short of taking out a bank loan, our chances of getting a Dodgeball-esque pitching machine had all but disappeared.

But the dodgeball gods smiled upon our team that day. A closer examination of the variety of pitching machines on eBay revealed a style that I had never seen before. For lack of a more a precise definition, it was basically a weight bench with a large slingshot attached to the vertical poles that hold the bench press bar.

The machine’s specs said it could throw up to 70 mph and the price tag of about $80 provided a huge sigh of relief. But its simplistic design had me thinking that it might be possible to build our own and help preserve our already meager budget. An early sweep of local consignment stores made it obvious that finding an affordable weight bench was not going to be as easy as I had planned.

Despite that, my main concern was soon taken care of when I found a couple rubber exercise bands that I could use to make the slingshot. They were the quality I needed at a price that made my wallet very happy. Further digging into the wide world of weight benches led me to determine that a different support system for the bands would be necessary if I wanted to transfer my creation from my imagination to the dodgeball court.

After a trial run with the rubber bands, a sign post and a weight tree proved my idea could actually work, I quickly planned out a new contraption that I thought had an outside chance of working. I called up my buddy Robert to ask if he would help me construct my masterpiece, since my only experience with construction was the few times I watched Bob the Builder with my younger cousins. (OK, it was just me.)

He agreed to help and gave me a list of supplies that I would need to acquire. I hurriedly rounded up those necessary items and he arrived a few days later. Using a couple 4X4s, some 2X4s, a box of nails and a saw, we spent the next two hours assembling the creation in the shadow of my family’s carport. My original design, which I had anticipated would not work, did not fail to disappoint. Instead, Robert used his expert design skills to tweak and improve upon what I had initially envisioned.

After a hard day’s work, we both stared in awe at the masterpiece that stood before us. I was slightly scared because I knew something had to go wrong. I decided to test it out to see if I was just being paranoid. I excitedly jumped out in front of the machine, which I dubbed the “ROB 9000” in honor of Robert’s help, and awaited its maiden ball launch. There were butterflies in my stomach and I couldn’t keep my heart from pounding inside my chest.

Robert placed a dodgeball inside the pouch between the bands, pulled back and let it fly. Before I could even react, the ball had shot out like a rocket and planted itself firmly in my gut. I was ecstatic. Having the air driven from my lungs by the ROB 9000’s first launch sent tears of joy down my face. It had worked better than I ever could have imagined, and as I stood there gasping for breath, only one thought kept going through my mind:

“Wait until the guys get a load of this…”

Hall of Fame talk

I’ve been on the NCDA forums and I was excited to see a Hall of Fame topic for discussion. I looked through the posts and I saw that the top votes went to guys. This is completely understandable. But the more I looked at the nomination process the more I wanted to be a part of it. I want to be in the NCDA Hall of Fame but sadly I haven’t done anything to warrant a nomination. So I have decided to do everything I can to make BGSU dodgeball a top competitor in the years to come and possibly get a nomination. But I don’t want to be the only one. I want every girl in the NCDA to make difference for their team. Whether it be popularizing a “Grip” (like OSU’s Funk) or revitalizing a team, a girl can be an indispensable part of their team. Let’s get those nominations ladies!

Blue Demons Focus on Fun

Story by: Ben Rusch

DePaul University, located in scenic Chicago, is a unique team within the NCDA. Whereas many teams focus on the competitive aspect of the sport, the Blue Demons tend to focus on the fun and ridiculous nature of a bunch of undergraduates playing a child’s game.

Several players take a keen interest on inventing complicated (and usually impractical) trick throws, including The Awesome, The Amazing, and The Mexican Flying Coffin Filler. The spectacular failures and the shocking successes of throws like these are equally entertaining.

In terms of tournament play, DePaul is in a rebuilding phase.

Last season’s National team sported two seniors and 14 players with no prior tournament experience. While numeric successes from Ohio State were limited, we were able to hang out with our good buddies at Michigan State, and our new friend “Chris” from GVSU.

DePaul-style dodgeball has significant differences in game play than most schools in an effort to increase the pace and intensity of the game.

For example, a catch does not eliminate the thrower (though one person from the catching team’s jail returns to the court), and boundary lines (excluding the neutral zone) tend to be fluid.

The basic core belief of Blue Demon Dodgeball is that it’s a game, and while no game should be taken too seriously, dodgeball should probably be taken even less seriously.

When it stops being fun, the reason for grown men and women to throw rubber kickballs at each other ceases to be.